Okay, so you saw the new, Keanu-tastic remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, and were... underwhelmed, apparently. What to do? First, write director Scott Derrickson a nasty letter. (Hint: Mention Hellraiser: Inferno.) Second, go rent (or buy) the Two-Disc Special Edition of the original movie, which any sci-fi fan will tell you is a classic that changed the game and still has relevance today. While a film noir 1950s sci-fi flick may not have the same kind of mass appeal Keanu Reeves has, sci-fi fans will find that the new edition has some great additional featurettes that previous versions do not. But new or old, several of the extras on this disc are also hysterically, hysterically funny.
The Mysterious, Melodious Theremin
The theremin is just a funny instrument. The name sounds like a cold medicine, it looks like a CB radio, and it makes those crazy sci-fi sounds that became clichéd after this movie, but were awesome when Portishead used them. Anyway, theremin whiz Peter Pringle teaches us about the theremin's origins, composer Bernard Hermann's personal theremin, and how to play it. Pringle is incredibly excited about the whole thing, despite having an alliterative snack food name, and he even does a "live" Main Title Performance elsewhere on the disc.
A Brief History of Flying Saucers
For starters, let me just say that I believe that there is alien life on other planets. I also believe that there is alien life right here on Earth. The assortment of characters that they managed to round up to make this new documentary about UFOs is one of the most ridiculous groups of people I've ever seen. And not for their beliefs, or their dedication to the study of cigars from space, but for their outfits. Red and green plaid shirts do not require ties. Haircuts... are a completely different story.
The Making of The Day the Earth Stood Still
It's funny, because this is an all-new documentary, with all-new interviews, but the original making-of, included on the previous edition, is absent. A shame, since the last one was over an hour long, with interviews with memorabilia collectors and fans like Gremlins director Joe Dante, and this one is barely 30 minutes, mostly focusing on what a great guy director Robert Wise was. (Not just as a person, but for directing both The Haunting and The Sound of Music.) Not really funny, just sad.
Fox Movietone News
An older feature (as in 1951 old), this Fox newsreel might have played in front of the original screening of TDTESS, and your grandfather might have laughed his ass off at it. In typical Fox News fashion, the announcer makes fun of Russia for trying to disrupt a Japanese peace treaty signing, and a US Senator even tries to play a game of "gotcha" with the Russian ambassador by handing him a map of Russian prison camps, which his assistant throws to the floor. Then the entire assembly has a laugh when the Polish ambassador tries to talk about freedom of expression, and even he seems to acknowledge how ridiculous it is. Man, the Cold War was wacky.
Race to Oblivion Documentary Short
This really shouldn't be funny, since it's an anti-war documentary written and produced by TDTESS screenwriter Edmund North, who despised war despite attending military school and making most of his money from writing war movies. But when it starts off with a chorus of children singing about how it's up to you and me to stop global warfare, as awesome images of jets and battleships play in the background, you can't help but laugh. It's like a music video for "Give Peace a Chance" using footage from Top Gun. Then Burt Lancaster shows up, and he talks to us as he drives around, and you just want to scream, "Watch the road, Burt!" And then he talks to a Hiroshima survivor. Ahem. End of funny.
The two-disc set has a bunch of other documentaries: about Edmund North, the role of sci-fi as metaphor for the real world, and the original short story's author, Harry Bates, as well as a ton of galleries, including some pretty funny publicity shots and behind-the-scenes photos. And the gallery of advertising artwork is far from funny, it's just plain awesome.